Impostor syndrome is a term used to describe the feeling of professional inadequacy (or even fakery) that exists despite evidence that indicates that the opposite is true. Generally, this “syndrome” is perceived to be a bad thing – as the name itself implies. But, is impostor syndrome all bad? Consider these four reasons why impostor syndrome might actually be a good thing.
Even though perfectionism isn’t a good thing, it can lead to high rates of achievement and success. Taking pride in our work, attending to details, and being careful and thorough often pays off professionally.
Perfectionism and impostor syndrome often go hand in hand, and while you’ll need to deal with the accompanying feelings of anxiety in order to be healthy and happy, the fact is that impostor syndrome is often present in high achievers. As long as you don’t feel totally inadequate, there might be something about that pressure to do better that inspires attention, effort, and ultimately higher rates of success. When you consider all of the positive traits associated with this “syndrome,” you start to wonder if maybe this a label we should be almost proud to wear
2. It’s better than having an overly inflated ego.
Of course, it’s helpful to be confident. But, when that confidence is overly inflated beyond what is deserved, it can really hold folks back professionally. First of all, a big ego isn’t very appealing to others, and having a strong network is a key to success in many industries. Second, an overly inflated ego could lead to careless work or low effort. It could also mean that others’ ideas and suggestions are mistakenly overlooked. Perhaps it’s better to err on the opposite side of the equation. Maybe underestimating ourselves is less dangerous than thinking we’re more capable and brilliant that we actually are.
3. It helps us stay motivated.
That little twinge of self doubt and anxiety could be just the kick we need to stay motivated and productive.
“…it is my personal experience that terrified, guilty insecurity is an excellent motivational tool,” said Molly Fischer in an article she wrote recently for The Cut. “I have never done anything I would up proud of without first being sure that I couldn’t, and was a fool for having decided to try. The heart-clenching dread of feeling that certainty – the need to make it GO AWAY – is basically the only thing that gets me though. What would I do if I weren’t afraid? Probably nothing.”
Fear of failure or feelings of fakery, while unpleasant, can lead to some pretty interesting results in the workplace. If you felt overly confident, you might be more likely to make mistakes as you breeze through tasks without double checking or maybe even without paying too much attention. But, if you’re a little on edge, you’re likely to be a little extra careful, and that could be good for the work you produce. You also might be more willing to ask for help than others, and that could be good for business, too.
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